On very few occasions do I find a movie to be better than the book it was based off of. The most recent being the HUGE release of Harry Potter 7 Part 1, which I love, but just in a different way than I love the book. (Side Note: my husband has not read the books, so it’s been a very educational experience seeing the movies with a “virgin”. I’m hoping he’ll see the light and start reading in July, we shall see…)
However, Julie and Julia by Julie Powell is one of those rare cases where I found myself finishing a book for the sake of a blog rather than my own enjoyment. Yes friends, I suffered for you! Haha, not really. What I mean to say is that it took me longer than it should have. I pride myself as being a fast reader.
The movie, with Meryl Streep as the beloved Julia Child and Amy Adams as the panicky Julie Powell, is one of my all-time favorites. They portrayed Julie Powell as a much softer, nicer, more understanding human being, and I think that’s why I was so appalled at the vulgarity and bluntness of the book. If you’re going to curse, it needs to have meaning, and a DAMN good reason behind it. It was F-bombs galore, with no sustenance behind any of them. And while reading the book, I had another ephifiny. I realized that during the movie, I zone out during the panic-fests of the rendition of Julie Powell’s side of the story. The same thing happened during the book. I wanted to fast-forward through Powell’s gab and get to the little part about Julia’s life. I kept thinking to myself, Why doesn’t Powell write like this when she’s talking about her own life? Maybe it’s just a matter of taste or writing style, or the fact that Child’s life was WAY MORE INTERESTING than Powell’s. This was my reasoning as to why it was so tough to get through the blather, as Powell’s excerpts of Julia’s life consist of only 18 pages out of the 307 page novel.
When I was still in that in-between phase (between watching the movie and not yet starting the book) I remember feeling so awful and sad when my mother told me that Powell and her husband were getting a divorce, and she was writing a new book about it, trying to revive her writing career. This didn’t make sense to me at the time. But now, after 289 pages of crude negativity and yelling, blatantly calling him “idiot” and screaming “motherfucker” over ruined recipe after ruined recipe, I wonder what made him stay as long as he did. She talks about her husband having saintly patience. Well, she obviously used it all up.
So yes, maybe seeing the movie before reading the book did ruin the experience for me. Or, maybe it was the fact that Nora Ephron was able to take the garble that was Powell’s life and make it more appealing on screen. However, I do applaud Powell of a great vocabulary and the ability to describe a disgusting kitchen scene, and I especially loved her maggot infestation. It made me think of praises of Thanksgiving, thanking God I haven’t had to overcome that obstacle in life.
One of my favorite parts out of the whole book was when she used the word asinine. One of my favorites, rarely used in writing or the spoken languge. For those who don’t know, asinine means “ridiculous”. The line at Costco was asinine! When you use it, you sound smart. Or dirty. Either way, I love it.